Feb 12, 2015

20+ Winter Boredom Busters for Backyard Chickens!

Whenever chickens are suddenly confined to spaces smaller than they ordinarily enjoy, boredom and behavioral problems such as feather picking, and egg-eating can result. By having some go-to boredom busters up one's sleeve in lousy weather, chickens can be kept busy, entertained and happy until Mother Nature gets her act together.
Snowy, sub-zero winter weather, hurricanes or severe weather of any type poses serious challenges for chicken keepers. Once the chickens' safety has been secured from the elements, their safety from one another becomes a concern. Whenever chickens are suddenly confined to spaces smaller than they ordinarily enjoy, boredom and behavioral problems such as feather picking, and egg-eating can result. By having some go-to boredom busters up one's sleeve in lousy weather, chickens can be kept busy, entertained and happy until Mother Nature gets her act together.
Whenever chickens are suddenly confined to spaces smaller than they ordinarily enjoy, boredom and behavioral problems such as feather picking, and egg-eating can result. By having some go-to boredom busters up one's sleeve in lousy weather, chickens can be kept busy, entertained and happy until Mother Nature gets her act together.
When personal space and normal pecking opportunities are limited by inclement weather, cabin fever can set in and chickens can get on each other’s nerves. That can lead to aggression, feather picking, injuries and cannibalism. Any of these boredom-busting activities and strategies can help prevent behavioral issues from developing.

IF YOU BUILD IT, THEY WILL ROOST
Chickens have a natural instinct to roost and perch up off the ground. Provide them with a variety of things to roost on and move them around from time-to-time to keep things interesting. By building up, the total square footage available to the flock is increases.
WIDE TREE BRANCH ROOSTS
 Chickens have a natural instinct to roost and perch up off the ground. Provide them with a variety of things to roost on and move them around from time-to-time to keep things interesting. By building up, the total square footage available to the flock is increases.
OLD CHAIRS
Chickens have a natural instinct to roost and perch up off the ground. Provide them with a variety of things to roost on and move them around from time-to-time to keep things interesting. By building up, the total square footage available to the flock is increases.
 LADDER ROOSTS
Chickens have a natural instinct to roost and perch up off the ground. Provide them with a variety of things to roost on and move them around from time-to-time to keep things interesting. By building up, the total square footage available to the flock is increases.
Gazebo from tree trunks and grapevines.
Chickens have a natural instinct to roost and perch up off the ground. Provide them with a variety of things to roost on and move them around from time-to-time to keep things interesting. By building up, the total square footage available to the flock is increases.
TREE STUMPS
CHRISTMAS TREE JUNGLE GYM
Don't recycle that Christmas tree until the chickens have had a chance to use it as a jungle gym!
Don't recycle that Christmas tree until the chickens have had a chance to use it as a jungle gym!
Don't recycle that Christmas tree until the chickens have had a chance to use it as a jungle gym!
NOVEL DUST BATHING AREAS
Chickens care for their skin and feathers by dust bathing, which can be as much a recreational and social activity as a functional one. Providing a variety of containers filled with potting soil, peat moss or good ol' sand breaks up the monotony and keeps things interesting. Large flower pots, buckets or tubs are all big hits with my chickens.
Chickens  care for their skin and feathers by dust bathing, which can be as much a recreational and social activity as a functional one. Providing a variety of unique containers filled with potting soil, peat moss or good ol' sand breaks up the routine and keeps things interesting.
Chickens  care for their skin and feathers by dust bathing, which can be as much a recreational and social activity as a functional one. Providing a variety of unique containers filled with potting soil, peat moss or good ol' sand breaks up the routine and keeps things interesting.
SCRATCHABILITY
HAY OR STRAW
Toss a few flakes of straw or hay in the chicken run and sprinkle it with a handful of scratch, mealworms or sunflower seeds for hours of hunting and pecking hilarity!
Toss a few flakes of straw or hay in the chicken run and sprinkle it with a handful of scratch, mealworms or sunflower seeds for hours of hunting and pecking hilarity!
MIRRORS
Add a mirror to the coop or run, making sure it is securely attached to the wall and cannot fall or break.
MENU PLANNING
Make feed available to chickens all day long instead of rationing their food several times per day. Being allowed to pick up small amounts of feed often throughout the day eliminates competition for feed and provides the opportunity for a normal chicken activity with a purpose.
SIZE MATTERS
Provide feed in crumbles form instead of pellets to extend the amount of time birds spend pecking up feed to satisfy their appetites.
Provide feed in crumbles form instead of pellets to extend the amount of time birds spend pecking up feed to satisfy their appetites.
TREAT 'EM RIGHT
Treats can be employed as an occasional distraction, but should not be relied upon as a primary form of entertainment. No more than 5% of a chicken’s daily diet should consist of treats. Improper feeding is the main cause of the obesity epidemic in backyard laying hens.
Treats or snacks can be employed as an occasional distraction, but should not be relied upon as a primary form of entertainment. No more than 5-10% of a chicken’s daily diet should consist of extras other than layer feed. Improper feeding is the main cause of the obesity epidemic in backyard laying hens.
KALE CRANBERRY WREATH
Make a Kale Cranberry wreath for the chickens with a 44" x 10" piece of chicken wire. Roll the chicken wire into a tube and connect the ends. Bend back any protruding wire to prevent anyone from being poked. Stuff the wreath form with kale and cranberries and serve. My chickens loved it!
Make a Kale Cranberry wreath for the chickens with a 44" x 10" piece of chicken wire. Roll the chicken wire into a tube and connect the ends. Bend back any protruding wire to avoid anyone getting poked while pecking. Stuff the wreath form with kale and cranberries and serve.
Provide several containers of sprouts to ensure everyone gets some.
This Alfalfa Cake Protein treat recipe provides chickens with a variety of protein sources while keeping them entertained and active.
Peeps' Pumpkin Pie is a vitamin-packed, nutritious treat that can be made in large batches, frozen, thawed and served any time of year.
Peeps' Pumpkin Pie is a vitamin-packed, nutritious treat that can be made in large batches, frozen, thawed and served any time of year.
A single pumpkin can provide hours of entertainment for a flock of chickens.
PUMPKIN IN THE RAW. 
A single pumpkin can provide hours of entertainment for a flock of chickens.
A single pumpkin can provide hours of entertainment for a flock of chickens.
This protein-packed Alfalfa Soufflé Garland is a delicious way to offer molting chickens several protein sources in one treat while keeping them entertained and active!
This protein-packed alfalfa soufflé recipe is a delicious way to offer molting chickens several protein sources in one treat while keeping them entertained and active!
Get the recipe for my nutritious, Homemade Flock Block Substitute here!
Get the recipe for my nutritious, Homemade Flock Block  Substitute here!
FLOCK BLOCK ON A RISER
Turn a galvanized basin over and place a store bought Flock Block on top to keep it cleaner. One Flock Block will last my flock of ~50 chickens approximately 10 days. As always, remove all food from the run after the flock has gone to roost to avoid attracting rodents.
Nobody told ellen deHeneres that Flock Blocks are not for roosting!
Turn a galvanized basin over and place a store bought Flock Block on top to keep it cleaner. One Flock Block will last my flock of ~50 chickens approximately 10 days. As always, remove all food from the run after the flock has gone to roost to avoid attracting rodents.
HANGING EDIBLES
Different hanging foods can be a fun and nutritious boredom buster for the chickens in lousy weather.
*STRING WARNING*
If a chicken ingests string, it can get tangled up in their digestive tract, creating a medical emergency and death. When offering chickens treats attached to string, always use a thick material such as this sisal string that will not easily break, secure it well so it cannot come loose from the structure it is attached to, remove it from the chicken yard as soon as they’re done with the treat and closely monitor the chickens while enjoying the hanging treat- you do not want to miss a minute of it!
When offering chickens treats attached to string, always use a thick material such as this sisal string that will not easily break, secure it well so it cannot come loose from the structure it is attached to, remove it from the chicken yard as soon as they’re done with the treat and closely monitor the chickens while enjoying the hanging treat- you do not want to miss a minute of it!
KALE BOUQUET
Tie a string around the stems of a bunch of kale, mustard greens or collard greens and let the chickens have at it!
When offering chickens treats attached to string, always use a thick material such as this sisal string that will not easily break, secure it well so it cannot come loose from the structure it is attached to, remove it from the chicken yard as soon as they’re done with the treat and closely monitor the chickens while enjoying the hanging treat
HANGING CABBAGE.
Securely tie sturdy string around a cabbage and hang it securely at chicken eye level for hours of swinging fun!
Securely tie sturdy string around a cabbage and hang it securely at chicken eye level for hours of swinging fun!
LET THE GAMES BEGIN!
Buy a Treat Ball chicken toy, fill it with mealworms, black oil sunflower seeds or other dry treat and let the games begin!
Buy a Treat Ball chicken toy, fill it with scratch, mealworms or other dry treat and let the games begin!
CHICKEN CRICKET
Purchase live crickets online or at a local pet store for a game of Catch-Me-If-You-Can!

CHICKEN CRICKET Purchase live crickets online or at a local pet store for a game of Catch-Me-If-You-Can!
CHICKEN CRACK BOTTLES
Use a 1/2" drill bit to drill holes in empty plastic bottles, add chicken scratch (aka: chicken crack) OR, better yet, layer crumbles, and watch the fun break out! Provide several bottles to the flock at once to avoid conflict & fowl penalties.
   CHICKEN CRACK BOTTLES Use a 1/2" drill bit to drill holes in empty plastic bottles, add chicken scratch (aka: chicken crack) and watch the fun break out! Provide several bottles to the flock at once to avoid conflict & fowl penalties.
   CHICKEN CRACK BOTTLES Use a 1/2" drill bit to drill holes in empty plastic bottles, add chicken scratch (aka: chicken crack) and watch the fun break out! Provide several bottles to the flock at once to avoid conflict & fowl penalties.
  CHICKEN CRACK BOTTLES Use a 1/2" drill bit to drill holes in empty plastic bottles, add chicken scratch (aka: chicken crack) and watch the fun break out! Provide several bottles to the flock at once to avoid conflict & fowl penalties.
In the event best efforts to keep chickens from turning on one another fail and an injury does occur, separate the bird from the rest of the flock to administer first aid and to protect the bird from being pecked by other flock members. Read much more on this topic here.
http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/01/chicken-first-aid-kit-sick-bay-be.html
Amazon Affiliate disclosure statement at The Chicken Chick®
Kathy Shea Mormino, The Chicken Chick®

No comments :

Post a Comment